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Coming Attractions: author’s letter to crescent city

Author Inette Miller and husband ’Iokepa Hanalei ’Imaikalani left their possessions behind and moved to Hawaii 15 years ago. Miller has written memoirs about that experience and her return to the mainland for a book tour that included a fateful stop in Crescent City. Submitted
 Injured in wreck on previous book tour, Inette Miller returns to place that offered help 

Nearly two years ago, author Inette Miller of Lihue, Hawaii, and husband ’Iokepa Hanalei ’Imaikalani were traveling through Del Norte County on a months-long book tour when a car accident took them on a detour to Crescent City.

The two were driving up U.S. Highway 199 through Hiouchi when they were struck head-on by a vehicle whose driver fled the scene and was later arrested for hit-and-run and driving under the influence. 

Miller was admitted to Sutter Coast Hospital with a concussion, six broken ribs and temporary amnesia. 

Her husband praised the outpouring of generosity they received from Del Norters, who offered homes to stay in and a car to drive (theirs was totaled). 

Miller, a longtime journalist who was a war correspondent for Time magazine in Vietnam, left her possessions behind in Portland, Ore., when she met ’Imaikalani 15 years ago. He sold his home in the Pacific Northwest and together they moved to Hawaii and lived on the beaches. A book about that experience, “Grandmothers Whisper,” was published by Miller in 2010.

Miller recently wrote to the Triplicate about a book tour for a new memoir, “The Return Voyage,” which will include a stop in Crescent City on May 8:

You may or may not remember my name or my husband’s, but we cannot possibly forget the kindness of the Triplicate and the good folks of Crescent City. May 20 will be exactly two years since we were on the final two weeks of a six-month, national book tour for “Grandmothers Whisper.”

Our car was struck by an intoxicated driver, far exceeding the speed limit, and crushed us between his errant car and a giant redwood. We spent the next two-plus weeks as the guests of your town: first in Sutter Coast Hospital and then recovering still in the Lighthouse Inn. Your bright and delightful reporter  interviewed us in the hospital,  and the town responded with an outpouring of compassion.

On the one-year anniversary of the accident, I wrote a letter to the editor expressing our gratitude. It took that entire year to fully recover from the injuries sustained  — most frightening, my short-term memory loss — scary, you will acknowledge, for a writer.

I write again for a most specific reason. In December my husband and I began another five-month national book tour for our new book, “The Return Voyage.” The new book is also memoir; it is an empowering collection of vignettes, authentic and inspiring (we hope) accounts of our experiences speaking on behalf of the Native Hawaiian culture across the nation. Without a doubt, the most deeply moving of all the vignettes in “The Return Voyage” is the wonderful story of our experience in your fine town (a chapter called “There’s More to the Good Story”). When I have read it on our book tour, audiences cry and then insist that they want to know such a place as Crescent City.

But I write to you now because we received (a few months ago) a generous-spirited email from a deputy sheriff in Crescent City insisting that his life had been changed by the book “Grandmothers Whisper.” He enthusiastically invited us to do one of our powerful book events in Crescent City. We were thrilled at the opportunity to return the kindness to your town.

And so, Crescent City will host a free two-hour book publication party in a graciously-donated space at the Lighthouse Inn’s conference room, on Thursday, May 8, at 6:30 p.m. There will be music, food and celebration. We will speak for one hour; we will party, sign books, and chat one-on-one for the second hour. We will renew acquaintances, make new friends and offer our gratitude to the town.

This will be the next-to-last stop on our hectic five-month book tour on the continent that has taken us from NYC to New Orleans, from Sarasota, Florida, to Seattle, from Richmond to Michigan and so much more. After many years of national and international journalism — for the past sixteen years, the focus of my writing has been distinctly not journalistic, but rather memoir. 

And the stories that I now tell, while deeply personal on one hand, are decidedly not about me, but about my husband’s very profound (and much-oppressed) Native Hawaiian culture and what it just may have to teach the rest of our struggling planet. 

The website www.ReturnVoyage.com tells more about our story.

Our book events are never just another reading. My husband, ‘Iokepa Hanalei ‘Imaikalani  — a Native Hawaiian kahu or guardian of the aboriginal culture, will chant; we will both tell stories; I will read from “The Return Voyage.” We will answer questions. No two of our book events are alike. We are utterly responsive to and engaging of our audiences. We’ve loved the diversity, and naturally Crescent city presents us a very special face. We are enormously excited to return there — this time in full form!

Ho’omaika’i — blessings,

Inette Miller

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